Greg Ashley – Painted Garden (Birdman Records)

Greg Ashley is one busy dude. In just a few years’ time he’s released two albums with The Gris Gris, two with The Mirrors, and now two as a solo artist. Beyond just putting out a large volume of records, he actually keeps his quality control in check. Like his first solo album, Painted Garden finds him stripping away the noisier aspects of his “rock groups” to reveal his folky side, while still retaining every ounce of acid-fried weirdness his reputation is built on. Listening to the creepy backwoods vibe and oddball lyricism of tracks like “Fisher King” and “Room 33” I can see how Greg might be lumped in with the new indie-folk movement but I’m sure he also knows his way around Skip Spence’s Oar (like Oar, he wrote, performed and recorded most of what you hear on Painted Gardens by himself) and has probably given the third Velvet Underground album a few spins as well. This is an interesting album, but the constant slow pace causes it to lose steam in the second half. Perhaps sensing that I was looking for some of the frenzied psychedelia of his other groups, the album ends with “Corporation Station Agent” a short garage-folk number that comes from a Gris Gris 7″.